Harlem Federation of Teachers respond to COVID-19 comments made by Dr. Martell

The union says they stand with the REA and call out the Winnebago County Health Department saying they’re disappointed in Dr. Martell’s stance towards educators in light of the pandemic.
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 9:49 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell is under fire for comments she made at a September 21 COVID-19 update suggesting teachers are responsible for many of the coronavirus cases within area schools.

“Now the school personnel I’m going to call them the adult kiddos have not been following the guidance consistence,” Dr. Martell said. "They needed to limit in person meetings, they need to stay home when they are sick as well with one or more symptoms and they need to avoid mixing the cohorts.”

Martell’s message didn’t sit well with the Harlem Federation of Teachers and some say they can’t stay quiet about this issue.

“We’re trying to do our jobs and I think her comments yesterday place was just another way to place blame on somebody for what’s happening and I don’t think that’s fair," said Harlem Federation of Teachers Co-President Brad Sweet.

The teachers union sent Dr. Martell a letter saying they feel the health department has been underprepared to handle the scope of infection that reopening schools has triggered.

“I think her comments yesterday again made the implications that the only vector points that matter were the adults and that is absolutely not true and if her statement is that the virus is not spreading through the district or in the schools themselves, but yet we know we have kids who are testing positive then that’s not true," said Sweet.

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